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Barbara J. Bentz

Barbara J. Bentz
Research Entomologist
Forest and Woodland Ecosystems
860 North 1200 East
Logan, UT 84321
United States
Current Research

My current research is focused on understanding temperature response and adaptations of bark beetles and associated communities for increased understanding of population outbreaks in a changing climate. This research includes the role of host trees and the environment in population outbreak dynamics, and incorporating physiological information into  mechanistic models of bark beetle temperature response for managing forest ecosystems in a changing climate. I also research the role of bark beetles in post-fire environments.

Past Research

Temperature dependence of bark beetles; using pheromones to manage bark beetle populations; use of remote sensing for detecting bark beetle-caused tree mortality.

Research Interest

My research interests are numerous. Among the highlights are biology, ecology, management of bark beetles, physiological aspects of bark beetle response to temperature, modeling climate change influences on bark beetle populations, and fire and bark beetle interactions.

Why This Research Is Important

Bark beetles have caused more tree mortality in western North America forest ecosystems over the past 20 years than wildfire. It is imperative to understand how rising temperature and decreasing precipitation will influence bark beetle-caused tree mortality in the future, including interactions with other disturbances.

  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, Ph.D., Entomology, 1991
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, M.S., Forestry and Entomology, 1984
  • Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX, B.S., Forestry and Biology, 1981
Professional Experience
  • Project Leader, Entomologist,  USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Logan UT,  1999 - Current
  • Research Entomologist,  USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Logan UT,  1991 - Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

The 'Goldilocks Principle' Applies to Mountain Pine Beetle and Climate Change

Year: 2020
A field-based reciprocial translocation experiment for mountain pine beetle revealed local adaptation and genetic differences between populations in response to temperature. Because locally-evolved adaptations in mountain pine beetle have resulted in strict physiological requirements for temperature...

Great Basin bristlecone pines are highly resistant to mountain pine beetles

Year: 2017
Mountain pine beetle has killed millions of pines in the past two decades. We discovered that when confined on a Great Basin bristlecone pine, a high elevation species that can live more than 5000 years, mountain pine beetles avoid boring into the tree.

Elevational Shifts in Thermal Suitability for Mountain Pine Beetle in a Changing Climate

Year: 2016
By the end of the century, climate change-driven optimal temperature suitability for mountain pine beetle population growth is predicted to be greatest at the lowest and highest elevations.

World’s Oldest Tree Species Resistant to Mountain Pine Beetle

Year: 2016
Mountain pine beetle (MPB) is the most significant mortality agent of pines throughout western North America, and climate-driven range expansion is occurring. MPB is native to western North America, and native pines have evolved defenses against the insects attack. Great Basin bristlecone and foxtai...

Combined Effects of a Changing Climate Drive Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreaks

Year: 2014
An ideal combination of temperature and precipitation associated with a changing climate are responsible for recent mountai pine beetle population outbreaks, although evolutionary history will dictate the fate of future outbreaks.

Mountain Pine Beetle's Ability to Cope with a Changing Climate Depends on Genetics

Year: 2013
Recent field studies suggest that different selection pressures on northern and southern populations allow mountain pine beetle to maintain a similar and highly successful development pathway across the western U.S. even though temperature varies greatly from north to south.